Virgin Media Using Deep Packet Inspection To Spy On Your Internet Usage For Hollywood
from the how-nice dept
Last year, there were early reports that ISP Virgin Media in the UK would become a copyright cop for the entertainment industry and start kicking file sharers offline if they were accused of infringement. While Virgin later denied this, the company did send letters threatening to kick users offline anyway. And, now, reports are coming out that Virgin Media is starting to use controversial deep packet inspection technology to spy on users to see if they’re sharing any copyrighted works. As the article notes: “It’s the equivalent of the Royal Mail opening every parcel to see if there’s a CD inside, and making a note if there isn’t a receipt in there too.”
While this is just a test, and the information is being aggregated in a supposedly anonymous way just to judge the extent of the problem, there are a bunch of issues with such claims. First, there is no such thing as an anonomyzed dataset. Second, there are some pretty serious privacy questions raised by this. In the US, the use of Deep Packet Inspection for looking at what users do has been frowned upon, but in the UK it’s been deemed not so bad by the legal system (however, the wider EU doesn’t agree with the UK on this position). No matter how you look at it, it does seem quite extreme for your ISP to carefully look at everything you do online. In the end, of course, this will only serve to drive up the demand for encryption technology.